"On this day 10 years ago, America would be changed forever.... And so would I."
Just two days earlier, on September 9th, Michael Jordan would host a charity event in Charlotte, North Carolina. Twenty-four hours later on the eve of America's most catastrophic day, Michael Jackson would entertain a private audience in Manhattan, NY. Life was going on as usual and I was experiencing the bright lights of New York City for the first time. Excited to see the "Big Apple" for a brief moment, I remember thinking that my future had endless possibilities and was a bright as I wanted to be. It was something about the charge of energy that hung in the air that night. Returning to my Midtown hotel room, I showered and then laid down to rest peacefully in the comforts of my Waldorf Astoria bed.
As the moon and sun switched places, my friends, which would include NBA Allstar Champ Cedric Ceballos and his companion, would head to the JFK Intl airport for an early flight cross country. I lay comfortably asleep in my room until I awoke to utter chaos. The phones were ringing off the hook. Before panic and fear set in, I began reaching out to my family as they were desperately trying to reach me. It seemed somehow all of Dallas knew that I was there, possibly in harms way. After hours of dialing and getting many busy signals, finally the first sign of unity showed her face. A well connected associated of mine back in Dallas managed to link me up with a then upcoming super model named "Tiffany". She, not knowing anything about me, set out on her bicycle and rode over 45 blocks in what seemed like a battle zone. We would park her bike in my room, while we set out on foot. Tiffany and I bonded as we shared heart wrenching tears and hugs. She showed me how to get to the ferries considering they may have been my only resort of escaping of what resembled an island on fire.
The most erie feeling of all was having the ability to walk and stand in the middle of vacated New York City streets. Just two months shy of my 20th birthday, a range of emotions evoked a solace look on my face that would stay with me over the next 4 days. The destruction that took place on that beautiful morning, redesigned and tugged at the heart strings of a nation. More particularly, in an instance it changed a city that was known for rudeness and it's fast pace. I'd never been offered so many bottles of free water and slices of pizza. People looked at you in your eyes and cared about what you were feeling.
A somber and quiet New York stood still into the night hours as the brave men and women began digging through the mountains of rubble looking for any sign of life that may have been trapped beneath the ruins. After spending a sleepless night in the city. The next day I managed to make my way back to the ferry and get over to Hoboken where another one of my angels was awaiting. For days on end that seemed like an eternity, I watched the burning malformed New York City skyline from the New Jersey shores of Hoboken for hours at a time. Hanging onto every word that Mayor Rudy Giuliani uttered, strength and anger began to replace the fear and sorrow. I was ready to stand up and do something. As President George W. Bush spoke with his eyes, no matter the political stance, America once again stood shoulder to shoulder united as a great country. That one day would force me to realize just how short life is and how much of a promise it is not. I came to realize that regardless of what happened in my past, it was up to me to dictate my own future with the grace and guidance of God.
September 11th, 2001 would FOREVER change my life. This present darkness was no longer an idea, but now a reality. It would be up to us to implement real change that would push us to prevail and remain the great nation that we were. Never forget the 2,977 lives that were lost. Thank you to the brave and fearless beings that protect this great country we call home.
Let us remember:
NOTHING about FREEDOM is FREE.